THE Japan Coast Guard (JCG) joined the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) from June 1 to 7 in conducting a trilateral maritime exercise in Mariveles, Bataan.
The exercise was the first of its kind among the three countries’ coast guards.
The PCG held an arrival ceremony at Pier 15 in South Harbor, Manila on June 1 as it welcomed contingents from Japanese and American counterparts. Charges d’Affaires a.i. (CDA) Kenichi Matsuda of the Embassy of Japan, Deputy Chief of Mission Heather Variava of the US Embassy, PCG Vice Admiral Rolando Punzalan Jr., Transportation Undersecretary (Maritime Sector) Elmer Francisco Sarmiento and Foreign Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Raphael Hermoso were in attendance.
The JCG deployed Akitsushima (PLH-32) for the exercise; the PCG sent BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702), BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), BRP Boracay (FPB-2401) and a 44-meter multirole response vessel (MRRV), while the USCG fielded USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752).
The BRP Melchora Aquino and the 44-meter MRRV were acquired through the “Maritime Safety Improvement” project of the Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA and the Department of Transportation.
The maritime exercise aimed to strengthen interoperability among the JCG, PCG and USCG via communication exercises, maneuvering drills, photo exercises, maritime law-enforcement training, search-and-rescue, as well as passing exercises.
Matsuda affirmed Japan’s support for the trilateral maritime exercise, as he said, “the shared [histories among Japan, the Philippines and the US realize] a free and open international order in the Indo-Pacific region.”
He added that Japan has taken another step forward toward reinforcing maritime-domain awareness and maritime-law enforcement, as affirmed in the Japan-Philippines Joint Statement.
“We will concretely advance cooperation with the Philippines to bolster maritime-security capabilities and freedom of navigation,” said the Japanese CDA.